February 9, 2015 by Ell and Mike Sports
Ell’s Top 8 Midseason NBA Power Rankings (West)
The Warriors have proven to be the best team in the NBA under new Coach Steve Kerr. PG Steph Curry continues to improve his game and is still one of the best offensive PGs in the league with his 3-pt range. SG Klay Thompson has taken his game to another level adding consistent defense to his great offensive game; he is now considered one of the best 2-way SGs in the league. The splash brothers can take this team a long way and combo guard Shaun Livingston has been a good addition. PF Draymond Green has been a great surprise this season making his way to the staring lineup thanks to an injury to David Lee. However, Green has been able to play well scoring, rebounding, and passing along with good defense while keeping the job. PF/C Maureese Speights provides great depth along with Lee. Harrison Barnes and Iguodala provide good wing man support making them a complete team from top to bottom.
The Grizzlies have been hot this season as PG Mike Conley has shown why he is one of the most underrated guards in the West. C Marc Gasol has really taken over and proved to be one of the best centers in the league as he comes in trimmed down ready to defend out to the perimeter. Gasol and PF Zach Randolph continue to dominate teams inside. Lee provides the offense on the wing and Tony Allen provides the defense playing off each other well. The addition of SF/PF Jeff Green coming off a good early season with the Celtics gives them a good 2-way forward who will keep them at the top of the West. Veterans SG/SF Vince Carter and PG Beno Udrih continue to provide consistent play off the bench and should play even better with Green in the rotation. There aren’t too many teams who can contain Gasol and Randolph inside, as well as, contain Conley up top; so I fully expect this team to cause problems in the playoffs with the right mix of veterans.
The Blazers have one of the best starting 5’s in the league and continue to play great team ball as one of the top teams in the West. PG Damian Lillard continues to grow as one of the best young PGs in the league playing at an All-Star level. SG Wesley Matthews continues to space the floor and provide solid perimeter defense. SF Nick Batum continues to be one of the best 2-way forwards in the league with good size and the ability to do anything on the floor while playing with or without the ball. PF Lamarcus Aldridge is one of the best PFs in the game right now and continues to impress in his prime while playing injured, but continuing to dominate. C Robin Lopez continues to do the dirty work and doesn’t mind being the energy guy and post defender. The bench is led by veterans PG Steve Blake, SF Dorrell Wright, and young PF Thomas Robinson, but they need more consistency. Veteran C Chris Kaman has been a decent addition providing depth behind Lopez, but must be more consistent. They could definitely use a boost from SG/PG C.J. McCollum and the young shooter SG/SF Allen Crabbe, but they should develop in time. The bench could really affect how far this team goes in the playoffs.
The Spurs have been the Spurs this season while resting their stars and dealing with injuries here and there. They have a deep bench and one of the best starting 5’s in the league. The Spurs continue to play great team basketball and Tim Duncan still has it, despite contemplating retirement before the season. PG Tony Parker still continues to impress as one of the best to the play off the pick and roll with his great leadership, handles, and quickness. SF Kawhi Leonard has dealt with injuries most of the season, but has since returned and he show that he is one of the best young 2-way SF’s in the game. SG Danny Green continues to knock down 3’s and always seems to be ready in the Spurs share the ball system. C Tiago Splitter continues to grow as a rim protector, but has dealt with injuries. PG Cory Joseph has been a great surprise when given the chance to shine (when Parker is out). The Spurs are still a complete team ready to turn it on at anytime, but all the teams above are more than willing to give them a matchup problem.
The Clippers have been having a solid season so far led by PG Chris Paul who continues to prove why he is the best PG in the league with his solid 2-way play and leadership. SG J.J. Redick has been surprisingly consistent and healthy this season as the 3-pt shooter to space the floor. SF Matt Barnes continues to provide solid perimeter defense and has even been a boost on offense at times when needed, but he is a streaky shooter. PF Blake Griffin continues to get better and improve on his game outside of dunking and rebounding making him one of the best PF’s in the game. C DeAndre Jordan continues to do the dirty work rebounding and defending the post and could be one of the best centers in the league at that. The bench is the issue for the Clippers, as they don’t have much outside of veteran SG/PG Jamal Crawford who continues to provide instant offense. PG/SG Austin Rivers has proven to be an offensive spark with improving passing skills since being added; but he needs to continue to improve. PF Glen Davis continues to make mistakes and is not very consistent. SF/PF Hedo Turkoglu hasn’t provided much this season either. C/PF Spencer Hawes has been a decent addition, but needs to take over the 2nd unit with Crawford. The Clippers could really use another solid wing player.
The Rockets have a solid squad from a talent standpoint led by two stars in their prime in SG/SF James Harden and C Dwight Howard. Harden continues to be one of the best SG’s in the league and has really been a clutch go-to scorer this season. Howard continues to put up solid numbers while showing a commitment on the defensive end again. PG Patrick Beverley continues to provide solid perimeter defense. SF Trevor Ariza has been a decent addition providing 2-way play, but he needs to show more consistency and better shot selection. PF Donatas Motiejunas has been a pleasant surprise putting up good numbers after a solid Summer League showing taking over the starting job while PF Terrance Jones was out. Jones has solid skills and should provide solid depth with his ability to play both forward spots. Veteran PF/SF Josh Smith has been inconsistent since joining the team, but should find his niche as the season continues. SG/SF Corey Brewer was a solid addition and should provide solid inside/outside defense. The Rockets need improved guard play from veteran SG Jason Terry and young scoring PG Isaiah Canaan as that has been their weakness in the playoffs in past seasons. Harden and Ariza can’t provide all of the offense while everyone else protects the rim, so they will need an offensive boost from someone, maybe Howard?
The Mavs surprised people early in the season showing good chemistry and a well balanced effort building well around Dirk Nowitzki with the additions of SF Chandler Parsons and C Tyson Chandler. However, they decided to make a bold move for PG Rajon Rondo which has brought mixed results so far, but he is exactly the type of player they will need in the playoffs to control the floor. PF Dirk Nowitzski continues to be clutch and show a good offensive touch, but his minutes have been limited at times. Parsons has been a great addition and has taken a lot of the offensive load as the 2nd option. SG Monta Ellis continues to impress as a scorer and continues to be a team player as he has shown since he joined the Mavs; he has been the real star on this team with his new willingness to share the ball and pick his shots. Chandler still brings toughness and physicality to the team while playing well to defend the paint. The Mavs still have a solid bench, but they could use another true post man behind Dirk and Chandler and they have too many PGs on the roster.
Thanks to injuries to their stars PG Russell Westbrook and SF Kevin Durant, the Thunder have gotten off to a slow start which has them on the outside looking in when it comes to the Western Conference Playoff race, but they are too talented to leave out. The injuries have caused other players to step up and really show Coach Brooks who is ready for more minutes, such as, SF/PF Perry Jones III, SG/SF Andre Robertson and C Steven Adams. Westbrook has come back dominating the competition while proving that he is one of the best PG’s in the game. Durant has come back and earned an All-Star spot in his short time back while showing great offensive touch. Adams has taken the job from C Kendrick Perkins and continues to impress with his ability to do the dirty work around the basket defensively. Robertson has proven to be a good defensive stopper taking the place of SG/SF Thabo Sefolosha. The Thunder has a strong bench of young talent, but the addition of SG Dion Waiters makes them a dangerous team going forward.